Boro To Bounce Back With A Bang?

BORED. What a long two weeks with nothing but the health of the Rolls Rhys to worry about. I can’t wait to get back down to business.
The next batch of six games – Donkeybothering Blackpool (H), stopwatch Jnr’s Peterborough (A), would-be Olympic squatters West ‘Aam (H), troubled Bristol C (A), fading early pace-setters Brighton (H) and our one time Nemesis Cardiff (A) – will take us up to Christmas and could decide whether we are serious promotion contenders or if we will be flapping around clinging on to play-off possibilities.
Where we stand then may also determine the landscape as the transfer window creaks open. Well placed and we will have a compelling case to fend off interest from well wadded top flight poachers and hold onto our “most wanted.” It may also strengthen Mogga’s hand when asking for cash to beef up the squad. If we have faded away then the pressure will be on to cash in on the likes of Williams and Bates and start rebuilding now ready for next year. It is a very important phase in Mowbray’s Boro project. But then, we seem to say that every other week

If we are to shape up as automatic promotion contenders – and why not? There’s nothing to be scared of and the last few years have thrown up a couple of outsiders like Blackpool, Norwich and Swansea who stick with the leaders from early on and squeeze through – then we need to get straight back down to business after the break.
Boro need to pick up where they left off and stretch the unbeaten home run with another win. And another clean sheet. And possible adding some of the entertainment that was missing in the laboured victory over Watford.
So, quick survey of public opinion… honestly now, where did you expect to be now back in August? And where do you now expect to be at Christmas? With a third of the season gone, how are we shaping up? As genuine promotion contenders or a flash in the pan? And what are the biggest challenges we face going into the Twilight Zone of the transfer window?
During the break I have obviously just been sat with my feet up and waxing my tash but I’m bored now. Back down to business.
To give you something to ease your way back into the seething cauldron of red hot soccer chat, here’s a few things I have pointed my browser at over the past few days on Twitter (which obviously you should sign up to “follow” me for all your updates, trivia, historical tit-bits and cynical gallows humour needs and live match update action.
Standing Is Safe… says the architect who designed the new Wembley.
Show Racism The Slow Card… if you think the way the Terry/Ferdinand race row has been dealt with has been glacial, consider this shocking case from the Northern League.
Football Heroes… in the wake of Poppygate and football’s gradual devaluing of the phrase ‘heroic’ here’s a bit on the professional footballers who volunteered – and in many cases died – in WW1.
Fence-climbing Fans’ Favourite… Bernie Slaven was 51 this week. To celebrate the Glaswegian goal-getter turned Shock Jock’s net-busting skill’s here’s some of his best bits.
Macsh Back After Shack… exclusive (and much pilfered) interview with unemployed former Boro boss Steve McClaren by Les Rosbifs, the anorakoblog that tracks English footballers abroad.
That should keep you going for a few days.


36 thoughts on “Boro To Bounce Back With A Bang?

  1. Wher did I expect us to be now back in August?
    In my dreams first and romping away with it, heading for another record points total a la 1974.
    In reality after the superb run of form in the second half of last season and given we lost a lot less of our best players than I expected would leave then I expected Boro to be play off contenders, maybe 5th/6th/7th ish.
    We’ve performed much more consistently so far than I expected we would.
    As for what lies ahead, if we can get into the groove of winning at home then a top two finish is a possibility, but if I had to put my mortgage on it right now I’d say we’re gonna finish 3rd/4th.

  2. I reckoned we’d be around 7/8th at this point so more than happy.
    As I can’t see more than a draw against West Ham and a defeat against Cardiff I suppose a top 4 position by Chrissy would be fine – then it’s off to the shops with our vouchers for a new forward hoping we dont have to sell last year’ss prezzies to get one.

  3. Pre season and to be honest at the end of last I was hoping for an improvement in the season ahead.
    The great end to last season meant a push at promotion with a play off spot a real chance. As the window went on and the players left we could afford to lose it reinforced my view.
    We are better placed than I thought we would be. Play offs are a real target now, better home form would have meant us sitting up there with Soton.
    Mogga is right that the crowds will improve if the football is better at home.

  4. The league is so topsy turvy that it’s very hard to predict but it’s fair to say that we’re a fair bit ahead of my pre-season expectations.
    I felt 8th would be a decent finish for us, but given our start there’s no reason why we can’t finish in the play-offs at least. I’m still not quite expecting it, but the possibility has become more real.
    Keeping players will be key, whether it’s keeping them on the books or keeping them fit. We haven’t got many good options up front, wide or at left back so we’ll need either a bit of luck or a bit of investment in those areas.

  5. I think we are where I thought we would be…I just hope we dont miss out at the end and wish we hadn’t sold Boyd or Lita…
    Great compilation from Bernie, I’d forgotten how many he had got with his head. Wish we had him now…..

  6. I think we are about three or four points ahead of where I expected us to be. I would have had us just inside the playoffs, so to have a bit of a cushion is fantastic.
    The wins at Leeds, Burnley and Palace were all unexpected, though we’ve also dropped points at home where we would have expected to win.
    Looking forward to the run of games now, as I’ve missed three home games already this season due to various commitments. Got my Peterborough tickets as well, can’t wait to be back on a terrace again.
    I think 10pts would be par from the next 6 games, though we might need a few more to prepare ourselves for the inevitable xmas slump.

  7. I wonder if all the faint-heart Slavenites who were predicting a relegation struggle because we had sold Lita and Miller will admit what their pre-season predictions were.

  8. I honestly thought when we lost Lita that we would struggle for goals and would be sat mid table about now.
    Marvelous Marvin stepped up to the plate and Lita has not been missed. IF Marvin continues his streak and Robbo continues to chip in we will get play-offs with ease if Marvin and Robbo go off the boil then I just can’t see where the goals and subsequent points will come from.

  9. I thought we would end up about 7th (but secretly hoped for a little better) but now 7th would be a real let-down. Now I think maybe 3rd, but hope for at least one place better. Mind you, finishing 3rd and winning a play-off final at Wembley would be a nice way to round off the season.
    Peasepud: Yes, I was ranting a bit, wasn’t I? I thought it looked like Rhys was injured, feared it might be another lengthy lay-off, and was wondering how that would affect the rest of the season. I feel calmer now!

  10. Another boring international break coming to an end.
    Coment on Sky this morning, yes we get it in SA.That the og is Englands fourth top scorer. Sums it up really.
    Any way looking forward to the weekend and hope we can carry on the good work.

  11. At the start of the season I was optimistic that we might just nick a play off spot based on the form towards the end of last season.
    Now I look at those dropped points at home and think that if only we had put some of those games to bed we could have been top or at least 2nd on goal difference.
    I blame Mogga, its all his fault……….
    …….removes tongue from cheek!

  12. Didn’t think we be third (on merit) and certainly didn’t think Southampton would be topping the division.
    Will hold judgement until after Xmas and the New Year – usually an excellent indicator of who will be in the mix come April

  13. Like a bit of consistency me so I’ll stick with my prediction of Wembley and the play-off finals however I won’t go so far as to say that is guaranteed.
    The last seven games have done little to consolidate my confidence. Major hope is that the teams around us keeping bobbing up and down in the table due to lack of quality and organisation, and Mogga keeps rollin with the Mo.

  14. We are in a better position than I thought we would be. I did think we would be mid table, the top half of that.
    Still a long way to go, we look thin on the ground still and the way the subs have been cut, its difficult to see what the bench can do.
    Just going back to a thread from the Mogga story yesterday, I remember the time when to see the Boro you had to have a season ticket. I remember the last few games of the season we left Ayresome, me and my lad had been ever present at home games for a many seasons, missed the odd midweek match because of school etc, then the club had a wheeze idea of a partial season ticket for the last few home games, completely pricing us out of that run in and promotion.
    It took until four games into the next season to be able to get the cash to get our first red book (which was given up under the dull McClaren years) so economics do have a huge bearing on attendance, from the good times when you can’t afford to get in to the bad times when you can’t afford to actually go.
    The commercial sides grip on reality is still way off, but now they can’t lazily depend on full houses.
    As an example I have had the same home email address for getting on 15 years, the club should have this on their database through a number of avenues, do I ever get anything from them coaxing me back?
    I think they still think we must pay for the privilege like the old website, Boro TV (does that still exist?)

  15. I had the foam hands out at the beginning of the season and the heady aroma had me predicting that we would be in a small group that had broken away at the top after three or four months.
    I think a five point cushion to seventh place qualifies as a bit of a breakaway.
    If I’m honest though, I think that particular foam induced prediction was more in hope than expectation, so to be comfortably in third spot in mid-November is probably better than I really thought in August.
    The key now is to keep up the momentum till January when the team can get an injection of some quality to push us on to the end of the season still challenging for automatic promotion.
    I’ve just had a go on the BBC predictor, putting in all results up to 31st December and my festive foam dream looks like this:
    1.Middlesbrough played 24 47pts
    2.Southampton played 24 46pts
    3.West Ham played 24 43pts
    4.Cardfiff played 24 41pts
    5.Leeds played 24 40pts
    6.Birmingham played 22 37pts
    7.Lecester played 24 37pts
    8.Derby played 24 37pts

  16. I don’t think I predicted anything much at the start; I just hoped very hard (and enjoyed a thrilling start to the season because my hopes were regularly fulfilled.)
    What does seem to be very predictable now, though, is that the West Ham game looks like a big one and that we could do with some big vocal support to lift our lads (who have probably less in the big-name, experienced-old-lags department going for them). People like Nolan would love to come here and play in front of 14,000!
    Why don’t we all get a few lusty-lunged mates down to the Riverside on that day to make sure that pipe-and-slippers atmosphere doesn’t happen?

  17. We are over achieving for me, with limited resources, so I am well happy.
    The crunch, as you have identified, comes in the January transfer window. We could take a big hit and and end mid table. Can Gibbo resist and gamble on the big prize, a possible play off final at Wembley (was there last Sat for England/Spain, and dreamt of rows of foam handed Boro fans filling the southern air with come On Boro’s!!) or even better (gasp!!) an automatic promotion spot?
    I don’t think we can get one of those, West Ham have one nailed on for me, but I can dream. After all, thats what we pay our money for. BTW .. we should be giving tickets away for the Hammers game if it means getting a full house, its that important.

  18. Agree with coments above. The West Ham game is a biggy and needs a big crowd to spur us on.
    Its probably going to be on the box which is a bit of a worry.
    Mogga has killed off a lot of our reccuring problems so maybe he can do something about playing in front of the camaras.
    Our league position – I predicted 7th for the end of the season mostly due to the size and quality of the squad not the first choice team which I feel is as good as anybody in this league.
    Our position now is better than expected at this stage. I think if we can be in the same position by January with a new option up front and a second keeper we can then do it.
    We need to get three points when we get Southampton at home surely they will have a glitch sometime.

  19. Something Boro related about players who have left.
    In my morning paper it talks about three groups of England players, the certainties, the ones sweating on a place and the ones out in the cold.
    Downing is in the middle group but to my surprise Jinky was in the latter.
    That got me thinking of Mancini’s odd jibe at Jinky and the fact he is Italian like Capello.
    He certainly can change matches but is it the fact he may be a bit of a maverick? I have no evidence but something seems odd.
    Anyway two more days and we are back to proper football on Saturday.

  20. A final thought on Vic’s fill in thread.
    The squad has started this season like it finished the last. Of the players we left over the summer the two losses who could be argued have weakened the squad were Taylor and Lita.
    Taylor was number two to Bennett at left back but could play in midfield – the one area where Mogga seems to recruit for the sake of it.
    Lita was hit or miss and you could certainly say Nimely and Ogbeche havent shown much yet.
    Haroun looks a good player, I would give him a run on the right. Martin we have only seen flashes of so cant comment. Mains is knocking them in for the reserves though to be fair so did Danny Graham – the difference is the reserves in Graham’s day were competing with the second strings of better clubs.
    It can be argued that the squad is not weaker than last season, most of the outgoings replaced were just weight on the wage bill. More players are available for selection, more people who were always in the treatment room are now on the training pitch.
    A continuation of the form from last season should have seen us in a better position last year and that is around the play offs.

  21. Hi Tim from SA.
    West Ham is a Tuesday evening match and coincides with Carling Cup action in England. I think it is Arsenal live on TV that night.
    A good crowd under floodlights on a November Tuesday night in Middlesbrough should be good for an atmosphere and I can imagine that WHU “premiership quality” stars might not fancy it. I’d love to be able to get along, but I have no chance of getting there from Scotland for that Tuesday evening.
    After Blackpool on Saturday, we are not at home again until Sat 10th Dec (apart from the WHU game that is), so victory over Blackpool and a good result at Posh the next saturday and maybe it will be enough to tempt a lot of souls to go along.
    Boro will be on the box on the following Saturday, 3rd Dec, away at Bristol City.

  22. I’m very pleased with our league position, and as my mate Kev B has stated, with limited resources.
    Get the Bart man up front with McDonald and play Marvin in the hole, and the end goal should be the runners up spot. I don’t think my nerves can survive the play offs!

  23. Especially after the exciting seasons end, I was confident of steady improvement that would eventually lead to promotion. I still am – but certainly didn’t expect progress this much or this fast.
    After all, we battled relegation for most of last season. Compared to that, mid-table safety would have represented definite advancement. Pre-season I hoped for little better than edging into the top half. There was a bit of me that longed for an unexciting, steady season of consolidation.
    In the summer my best guess was 10-13th around now, ending up 7-9th. We’re doing much better than anticipated but I’m not confident we’ll finish much higher than I thought. I suspect it’ll be touch-and-go whether we make the top 6.

  24. Powmill talks about W.Ham being a Tuesday night match and good for atmosphere. God, that takes me back.
    Having being taken by me dad since I was nine, in 67-68 I started going with my mates. In short order, we saw 4-0 wins under the floodlights against Plymouth and Preston. I can still picture a cross and looking over to see Johnny Crossan flying through the air at hip-height to score a spectacular volley. All under the moody mist of the floodlights. That was me committed (and I probably should have been!)
    Mind you, the Riverside can’t offer the swaying collectivism of the Holgate End …

  25. I don’t know about you lot, but I was just wondering. It will be pitch black after the whistle at the end of the Blackpool match.
    Does anyone think there might be some lighting on the road that takes us over the swing-footbridge at the mouth of what remains of the docks, and then passes the giant netball structure (Temenos?) as it makes its way to the “Clock” structure (that I believe was actually built as a water tower to power hydraulic dock gates) then to Middlesbrough College and the Transporter? From Temenos to the area as you approach the “dock clock” structure is particularly dark.
    Pitch black, a few thousand supporters trudging back to their cars…. A disaster waiting to happen?
    How many thousand does it have to be, to ensure that the street lighting is turned on? The lamposts are there, though I noticed recently that one of them had been turned inwards – not pointing out to shine down on the road/pavement, but down over the fenced-off “wilderness land” between the road and the dock. Incidentally, I noticed that as I walked TO the ground, when it was still light, not away from it. A good job, as the lights were not lit.
    Is it likely that the lights would be left, unlit, say around the James Cook University Hospital, or the main Teesside University buildings or, let’s say, the Thornaby Retail Park on the A66? For a short period the football ground must have thousands of fans leaving, more than might visit the hospital in, say, an equivalent 30 minute period. Maybe football fan, being the Neanderthals and social outcasts they are, should be treated as less in need of light than hospital staff or visitors, university students or shoppers?
    It doesn’t require much sense does it? If there is one match a week or a fortnight, and the match times are known well in advance, and it is known nearly everyone will be in and out of the ground within a few hours….if it doesn’t get darkish until say 3.30pm and nearly everyone has gone well before 6pm, it can’t be an enormous amount of electricity, can it?
    Or possibly the powers that be realise that the cost of the insurance premiums are less than the cost of the power used (even if only for a few hours each fortnight or so) and, with luck, no-one will be hurt for a few years….. Maybe someone is taking a bit of a gamble as fans trudge the highway back to the Transporter.
    Is it MFC not caring for the safety of its supporters, or is it Middlesbrough Council not caring for the safety of its citizens and visitors using the road? If it is the Council, can’t the Club have a word in the ear of those at the Council who need to make the decison? Just a thought, from one who has NEARLY tripped in the darkness a few times.

  26. I agree with you Nikeboro. Its sad to think the modern generation will never know the kind of excitement you could get at Ayresome Park.

  27. I know I’ve stated it previously but it still gets on my mammories, the way the press have suddenly taken to Stewie Downing now that he’s a Liverpool player.
    Still think he needs to grow a pair of orbitals though.

  28. So Mogga thinks we should be winning our home matches, no great surprise to me but I wont comment any further.
    It looks like we got through the international break without too many injuries. So same again may be the order of the day. I would give Haroun a start alongside Scotty and M&S with instructions for all three to spread the play.
    Behind them a midfield three with Bailey and Rhys in a more defensive role, Robbo free to roam and drive the team forward.
    What will happen? I suspect Boro starting quite cautiously, Robbo right and Zemmama left midfield.
    On another topic, I notice we have Adam Street doing reports on Boro. Any background info on the young man? Does he have a cardie?

  29. Tricky game tomorrow, Ian Holloway has put together a very good side despite losing some of his premiership players following relegation.
    I have had the privilege to watch previous Boro promotion teams which had quality running right through the team, this current Boro team do not impress despite flying high, and unless the squad is strengthened, I do not see them lasting the pace. We do not score enough goals and I say again McDonald and Emnes are not the answer.
    Yes our financial problems are well documented, however if Gibbo and Mogga are looking to return to the Big Time, there must be investment in the squad period.

  30. I booked my room in London for the 19th May two weeks after the season started! This will be my first trip to the new Wembley. Beware of the mid-season dip in form and do not panic I selected the non-refundable option.

  31. I am over here visiting family and was going to go to the game today but am not prepared to pay £23-31 for a ticket. They need to reduce the prices to get the numbers up. Shame really because I wanted to go, I can afford but I think its the principle.

  32. A series of very poor balls in and around the Blackpool box and the upright meant that we were 1-1 at half time instead of 4-1 up.
    Robbo’s miss was as comical as the the Pantomime style Blackpool defending which gifted him the mazy run in the first place.
    We were fortunate that the ref blew for a challenge on Steele for an infringement otherwise we could have found ourselves behind. From my seat I didn’t see a lot wrong with the challenge other than Jason seemingly hesitating for what seemed like an eternity before deciding that he should come for it.
    The substitutions at home again are a major talking point. Why oh why would you replace Rhys with Alex Nimely? The jury is out on Nimely as he has never produced anything of worth or value to date at the Riverside although granted his appearances have been cameos at best. Surely Kink, Halliday, Reach or Smallwood are a better bench investment than a loanee who looks lonely and just simply out of it?
    Faris Haroun was the obvious replacement for Rhys whilst later on Julio would have looked a better cert for adding a defence splitting cutting ball to replace the tiring Zemmama.
    And why take off Scott when he was hungry for our much needed third? After our substitutions we completely lost our shape and our dominance ended to the point where we where holding on for a point at the end.
    On a positive note if we can sort out our tactics in the final third and finish off gold plated chances (like Southampton are doing with aplomb week in week out) then we could go on a very impressive run in the second half of the season.

  33. Haven’t been able to join the BJS recently because of a business and a holiday trip to abroad.
    Yesterday I was informed by HalifaxP that we played very well and that we should have scored six goals against Blackpool. Also the two goal we conceded were more our mistakes than their merit.
    So a disappointing draw perhaps but still the ship sails towards the play-offs at the least. I think we can still beat any team in this league at home – any. And nicely also away – except perhaps at Soton or West Ham.
    So we need to beat those two teams at the Riverside this year to keep in touch with the a top two finish. And we can do it if we play well. Remember we have not lost a game at the Riverside since FEBRUARY.
    So far very, very happy with our form. I expected us to finish sixth but now I think that that is the minimum where we finish.
    With a little bit of luck we could even get to the automatic spot. But that needs a striker to be signed in January and not too many injuries during the rest of the season. And some luck as I said.
    Up the Boro. I love #mogganaut.

  34. I couldn’t attend the match on Saturday owing to a annual school governors’ conference but the most uplifting aspect of the weekend was the active support shown by the club shown to Gary Parkinson by sending him DVDs of prospective players and inviting him through blinking his eyes for approval or rejection.
    This simple act speaks volumes for the morality and values of the club under Mogga’s tenure.
    Yes, I am disappointed we lost two points but so what, we have another day to retrieve them, meanwhile Parky battles on.

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